Iraqi church aid workers are on the job and report that life "is still going on" and that people have not moved to shelters yet. But 52 local church shelters and supply depots are now ready in four Iraqi cities. The refuges - offering a place to sleep, water and food - are located in neighborhood churches and also in some local mosques.
"Setting up these shelters is a service for the whole community," said Edmond Adam, a Middle East Council of Churches official based in Jordan. Church assistance for those in need is welcome and people understand why it is offered, he noted. MECC is a long-time partner of LWR and both organizations are part of Action by Churches Together, an international emergency alliance that is coordinating Iraq crisis aid.
Two of the shelters received aid deliveries today - cooking oil, tea and water tanks - and two yesterday. Fifty wells that were drilled earlier to supply churches now have pumps installed and working. Water supply is a problem for literally millions of poor Iraqis and untreated water is linked to 70 percent of the high child mortality rates that affect their children, according to a UNICEF survey last month.
In case people flee the war LWR months ago pre-positioned bedding for 22,000 people plus personal hygiene and school kits - a half million dollars worth from U.S. Lutheran parishes.
For sick children, a shipment of medicines and supplies reached Baghdad last week. There are plans, and fund-raising in the U.S. for many more. LWR is sponsoring an appeal called "All Our Children" with six other faith-based agencies.
To help manage aid programs, LWR is supporting a liaison officer in Jordan with the ACT team.
In Jordan, ACT will assist with sanitation, shelter and food at a camp on the Iraqi border intended for 17,000 people. At present 242 pit latrines are being set up and food parcels prepared for 500 families with enough food for three months.
LWR is urgently requesting contributions toward these aid programs. Much of what can be done from now on will depend on the level of support received. LWR works on behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
To contribute to LWR, you may call 1-800-LWR-LWR-2, make a gift online at <www.lwr.org>, or mail a check or money order to:
Lutheran World Relief
P.O. Box 17061
Baltimore, MD 21298-9832
ELCA World Hunger Appeal
P.O. Box 71764
Chicago, IL 60694-1764
LCMS World Relief
P.O. Box 66861
St. Louis, MO 63166-9810
For more information contact Jonathan Frerichs at (410) 230-2800 and visit our website at <www.lwr.org>.